|I loved agent Steve Laube’s recent blog post When Editorial Errors Matter. |
Steve points out that writers make mistakes. Which is why writers need editors! “An editor’s job,” he writes, “is to be the safety net and catch those tidbits that find their way into an early draft of a manuscript for any number of reasons.” Even a “minor mistake” will pull the reader out of the story or distract from the message of a nonfiction book. When readers find a typo or inconsistency in a book, that mistake stands out. They may comment on the error to their friends (fellow readers) or even post about it on social media. Not the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that generates sales!
With an e-book or print-on-demand book, you can change the file so mistakes will be corrected in future publications. Many authors and publishers have a correction file on every book so when it comes time to reprint or publish a new edition, the errors can be fixed. But every copy of the first book will have that mistake in it forever.
Steve makes a good point about “the need for excellence in all things.” Our readers deserve our best. If they find typos, they get annoyed. They talk about the mistakes instead of talking about the message or story of the book. And if they find errors in multiple books by the same author, they’ll stop trusting that author. Yes, we all make mistakes. And a few minor ones here and there aren’t always a big deal. But writers need to make sure they’ve done their very best to ensure that it happens as rarely as humanly possible.
When I was getting ready to publish my Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, I proofread the manuscript until my eyes crossed. Knowing that no author can proofread her own work with accuracy (because our minds tend to read what we expect to see), I asked several of my friends who were professional editors to check the manuscript I had thoroughly proofread myself. They found things I’d missed. But guess what? After the book was published, I found errors we’d all missed. Frustrating!
When the Amazon reviews came pouring in, almost all were high rankings and wonderful raves. But Proofreading Secrets received a one-star rating from a reviewer who said she stopped reading when she noticed the word proofread was misspelled in the Table of Contents! My publisher explained that Amazon retypes the TOC when putting together the links in a Kindle book, so the mistake wasn’t even mine. And they were able to correct that. But that didn’t wipe away my book’s one-star rating. Or that reviewer’s opinion of my proofreading abilities.
Whether your books have a traditional publisher or you’re self-publishing, please take the time to edit and proofread all of your writing very carefully … and then have a professional editor and proofreader go through it to further polish it. Writing a book is a tremendous effort. But don’t put it out to the public until it’s the best it can be. Because everything we do for the Lord should be done with excellence.
If you’re not sure where to find a good editor or proofreader, may I encourage you to check out Christian Editor Connection? They have a database of established, professional freelance editors and proofreaders who have been extensively screened and tested. If you go to www.ChristianEditor.com and fill out the online form to Request an Editor, they will personally match you with the editors they believe would be a good fit for you and your project. Those editors who are interested and available will contact you directly so you can find out more about them and prayerfully choose the right one for you. (The Christian Editor Connection is a division of Christian Editor Network, which I own.)
What errors have you found in a published book that made you cringe? What mistakes have you discovered in your own books–before or after they were published?
Nancy Ellen Hird
September 23, 2021 @ 10:49 am
Copy editors are worth their weight in diamonds. Oh, yes ! And we writers make the work they do on our work better–not just easier, but also better–when we give them as a clean a copy as we can. That said and that done, I try to remember that an error in a first printing may at some point make this first edition more valuable, distinctive. You know like with antique books–the auctioneer says, “this is a first edition with the . . .” OK, dream on, Nancy. Kathy, sorry about the book buyer who complained. But that person probably wouldn’t have liked the rest of what you wrote. Their loss. Maybe that person was having a bad moment, a bad day, a bad year, a bad . . . Though what a God opportunity–we can put that person on our prayer list.
September 28, 2021 @ 10:30 am
I do love it when authors send me the cleanest copy they can to edit. But I realize that’s different for every writer. Nancy, I love your dream of an antique books auctioneer announcing the availability of a first edition of one of your books!